‘Don’t feed the locals’ say Dorset campaign group

With greedy gulls becoming increasingly aggressive, especially in seaside towns like Swanage, the Litter Free Dorset team is reminding visitors and the local community not to feed the seagulls.

They’re working with councils and local takeaway businesses to spread the ‘Don’t feed the locals’ message to discourage intentional and accidental feeding of seagulls.

Seagull on bin in Swanage

Swanage seagulls know where to hang out to get their beaks on some of the best chips in town

Reduce the antisocial behaviour of seagulls

The aim of the humorous campaign is to reduce the antisocial behaviour of seagulls, as well as reducing litter and hence improving the local environment for everyone.

Litter Free Dorset is calling on locals and visitors to:

  • Never leave food unattended
  • Bin any unwanted food
  • And if the bins are full, please take all rubbish home
Seagull and food

Seagulls patrol the Stone Quay in Swanage looking for an opportunity to swoop

“Al fresco dinner ruined by some aggressive gulls!”

Sophie Colley, Litter Free Dorset’s coordinator said:

“It’s really important we do not feed seagulls as encouraging this bad behaviour can lead to them relying on scraps from humans.

“This can result in greedy gulls pulling rubbish out of bins, scattering litter everywhere, to find scraps or stealing straight from our hands or laps. No one wants their al fresco dinner ruined by some aggressive gulls!”.

Seagull poster

‘Don’t feed the locals’ stickers and posters

Litter Free Dorset says it already has 60 businesses across Dorset displaying ‘Don’t feed the locals’ stickers and posters, encouraging their customers to bin their rubbish or take it home with them.

Sophie added:

“If the bins are full please hold onto your rubbish to dispose of at home. Seagulls are clever and will pull rubbish out of overflowing bins and tear apart bags of rubbish placed next to or on top of bins, scattering litter everywhere while on the hunt for tasty treats.

“Once littered, this rubbish can be easily blown or washed into our watercourses and out to sea.”

Dinosaur and seagull

Swanage seagulls show no fear!

Not an anti-seagull campaign

The team is keen to stress that this is not an anti-seagull campaign. In fact they say that feeding seagulls human food is very bad for their health.

These foods are low in nutritional value for the gulls and contain a high calorie content which differs from their natural foods. This can result in malnutrition and long-term health problems for the gulls.

Seagulls on bin

The old style Swanage bins in 2021 proved rich pickings for the gulls. The new bins are more of a challenge!

“Gulls get addicted to junk food”

Ria Loveridge from Poole Harbour’s Bird and Recreation Initiative (BARI) said:

“This campaign isn’t just about litter on our streets, it’s also an important message about the health of our most iconic seaside birds. Just like humans, Gulls get addicted to junk food, either from us directly feeding it to them or by litter picking bins when food isn’t disposed of well enough.

“This junk food diet is proving devastating for their gut health and although it may seem like there are loads of gulls around, the herring gull has actually been on the RSPB Red list since 2009 due to declining populations!

“Gulls are the sound of the British seaside and need our protection so BARI says please don’t feed the locals!”


‘Chip thieves operate in this area!’

Further information

  • For more information or to download a ‘Don’t Feed the Locals’ campaign poster, go to the Litter Free Dorset website

Watch the ‘Don’t feed the locals’ video

Share this story

Contact us

Do you have anything to add to this story?

We like to keep everything up-to-date, so if you know more, please help us by getting in touch.


Top stories

Swanage Railway scraps plans for regular rail service to Wareham Despite years of battling to reinstate a branch line service between Swanage and Wareham in Dorset, Swanage Railway has dashed any hope of running trains up to the mainline for ... 1 month ago More Purbeck visitors urged to take trip to Brownsea 2 weeks ago Swanage to get seafront sauna and new beach cafe 1 month ago New chapter in store for Corfe Castle village shop 1 month ago D-Day 80th anniversary to be marked by tank patrol at Studland 2 weeks ago

Most recent

Swanage RNLI joins night time rescue mission as yacht catches fire Swanage lifeboat volunteers answered a late night call for help on Saturday 13th April 2024 after a yacht caught fire in Poole Harbour. 4 hours ago Three weeks of roadworks to begin in Corfe Castle 1 day ago Scare for Skippy inspired Swanage’s new animal ambulance 2 days ago Swanage shop scoops top UK retailer award 3 days ago Swanage fire crews to make a splash with charity car wash 4 days ago